Chickpea or Chana as it is widely known in India, is perhaps one of the few ingredients that can serve as a staple in the main course, healthy snack on a lazy weekend or just something to nibble on for killing your boredom hunger.

Also known as Chole in Northern India, these globules that come in black and white colours are not only one of the primary ingredients in the Indian kitchen but also a backbone of Indian agriculture as it produces 67% of the world’s total chickpeas.

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The two varieties that are widely available in India are Kala Chana, and Kabuli Chana are also known as Bengal gram, garbanzo, garbanzo bean and Egyptian pea. These yummy legumes are also popular as Kondaikadali in Tamil, Senagalu in Telugu, Kadala in Malayalam and Kadale in Kannada.

Though India is one of the main producers of chickpeas in the world today, its origins are dated back to 13th century. While the traditional name Chickpea is derived from French word chiche and cicer where another modern name Garbanzo came straight from Spanish.  In the western world, chickpeas always occupied a prominent position both in cuisine and in medicine.

Till 17th century, roasted and grounded chickpeas and were brewed as a substitute for a coffee in Europe. Around 800 AD, chickpeas were associated with Venus, the Roman Goddess for beauty and love as it improves fertility by increasing sperm production, stimulating menstruation and lactation.

Even though we find chickpeas mostly in black and white varieties, scientists have discovered more than 90 genotypes, which include wild species as well.

Chickpea plant

Chickpeas are in fact a pulse that grows on a plant with 20 to 50 cm in height, sporting small leaves that look like feathers on either side of the stem. The plant bears white flowers with beautiful pink, violet and blue veins with each seedpod enveloping two to three pods within.

The size, type and texture of chickpeas differ from region to region. The Garbanzo or Kabuli chana variety that are white in colour are cultivated extensively in India and Italy. The one more super popular variety is Kala Chana or desi chana, which looks black, dried and shriveled. It is available in small globules and it is hulled and split to make it into chana dal.   

In Southern India, it is a practice to offer ‘Sundal’ – boiled chana with oil, mustard and jeera seasoning during Dasara Navaratri to the Goddess Durga while in North Indians love their Chole Masala – a spicy gravy to their heart’s content, throughout the year.

Kala Chana Nutrition Facts Serving Per 1 Cup

Kala Chana is a type of legume loaded with nutrients such as protein, fibre and carbohydrates. It is an incredible source of vitamins like B6, C, folate, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and minerals including manganese, phosphorus, iron and copper. The wealth of nutrients in Kala Chana is beneficial in boosting the immune system, promote muscle mass, regulates diabetes and enhance hair, skin and nail health.

Calories 210

Fat 3.8g

Sodium 322mg

Carbohydrates 35g

Fiber 9.6g

Sugars 6g

Protein 10.7g

*As per USDA

How To Choose Chickpeas:

Always go for dried chickpeas. Kala Chana comes with dark and rough texture while Kabuli Chana exudes smooth exteriors. Make sure peas are not shriveled. If you are going for canned chickpeas, read the label to know other components like sodium. Go for those with less salt content to control blood pressure.

If you are planning to sprout chickpeas, soak them overnight and drain water, pat dry next morning. Allow it to dry under room temperature to sprout in two days. You can also refrigerate soaked chickpeas for two days and use it in curries, dals and salads.

Kala Chana In Ayurveda:

Known as Chanaka in Ayurveda and grouped as legumes – Shimbi Dhanya Varga, Kala Chana is a super source of protein. Add this to your daily diet not just for great nutritional value but also for preventing a plethora of health conditions including high cholesterol, liver enlargement, mouth ulcers, skin ailments etc.

Interestingly, the chickpeas exhibit different properties on the body, depending on how they have been cooked. According to Ayurveda, Kala Chana balances all three doshas – vata, kapha and pitta and are certainly preferred over the white or kabuli chana variety.

The ancient medicine describes Chana as astringent to taste with Shita Virya or cold potency, dry in nature, easy to digest but causing constipation. While it effectively balances pitta and kapha doshas, it also increases vata dosha and is recommended for those suffering from high body temperature and blood-related problems. Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas

Boiled And Steamed Kala Chana:

Kala Chana soaked in water for over 8 hours and then boiled in hot water till tender is called Adrabhista and plays a major role in improving immunity, building physical strength and improving taste buds. If these legumes are boiled and then steamed for few minutes, it is balances problems caused due to pitta and kapha doshas.

Dry Roasted Kala Chana:

Kala Chana when soaked overnight in water and roasted dry is called Shushkabrishta. It was mentioned in Bhavaprakasha Nighantu that eating these legumes can aggravate skin conditions, increase vata dosha as they are excessively dry in nature.

Slightly Roasted Kala Chana:

It was mentioned in Dhavantari Nighantu that Kala Chana roasted in very little oil makes the body feel lighter after consumption, flushes out AMA or metabolic toxins and reduces severe fatigue.

Deep-Fried Kala Chana:

According to Raja Nighantu, deep-fried Kala Chana balances Vata and Kapha imbalances, reduces cold, improves the functioning of tongue and taste buds and is easy to digest.

Wet Kala Chana:

Kala Chana can also be consumed without any cooking process. Soak it overnight till its tender and eat a fistful of it along with breakfast for improving sperm count, easy digestion and taste. However, eat in limited quantities to avoid diarrhea.

Kala Chana Benefits:

Kala chana

Black chickpeas offer a wide range of health benefits. Being complex carbohydrates, these legumes contain both soluble and insoluble fiber and aid in the functioning of digestive tract. Boiling black chickpeas is a lengthy process and it is advisable to pressure cook these tiny globules, to cut down on time and to store nutrients.

How To Cook Kala Chana:

Ingredients:

1 cup Kala Chana soaked overnight or 8 hours

Method:

Wash the soaked chana.

In a pressure cooker, add soaked chana along with 2 cups of water.

Cook till 7 to 8 whistles. Turn off the stove. Let it cool.

Take the boiled chana and drain out water. Eat or cook as desired

Health Benefits of Kala Chana:

Cuts Down Cholesterol Levels:

Chickpeas being high on soluble fiber, prevent bile acids from getting absorbed into the body and reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol and total triglycerides. In fact, studies reveal that the amounts of dietary fiber found in black chana is far more superior and effective than compared to other legumes. Also Read: Simple Lifestyle Changes To Control Cholesterol

Rich In Iron:

Boiled and roasted Kala Chana is a must-have in your diet plan if you are suffering from anemia. It plays a crucial role in improving the levels of hemoglobin for transporting oxygen to various body parts. Being rich in iron, it is also recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers in limited quantities.

A Powerhouse of Phytochemicals:

Black Chana contains a wide range of phytochemicals including carbohydrates, amino acids, proteins, flavonoids, iron, phosphate, chloride etc. These phytochemicals serve as antioxidants and prevent various cancers. Regular intake of black chickpeas strengthens bones and reduces hot flushes in menopausal women.

Protein Source:

Kala Chana is an amazing source of protein. If you are a vegetarian and worried to find your source of protein, black chickpeas come to your rescue. It has a whopping amount of 11 grams for every 100 grams of serving and it aids in repairing tissues, manages biochemical reactions, provides connective framework of certain structures in skin, hair and nails and keeps bones, ligaments stronger.

Aids in Digestion:

The rich amounts of fibre available in Kala Chana aids in digestion. It adds bulk, prevents constipation and eases stress on the intestines. Ayurveda suggests eating a fistful of soaked black chickpeas in the morning to avoid various digestive disorders. Also Read: Dietary Fibre And Its Role In Preventing Chronic Diseases

Regularizes Blood Sugar:

The complex carbs in black chana digest slowly and the soluble fibre regulates the absorption of sugars into the blood. The low glycemic index of chickpeas is 28, it prevents sudden spike in blood sugars, keeps you satiated for longer hours thus avoiding hunger pangs.

Stimulates Weight Loss:

It is a well-known fact that foods rich in fibre reduce hunger and aid in losing weight. While soluble fibre facilitates bile excretion for smooth digestion and insoluble fiber prevents constipation. Traditional medicine practitioners suggest drinking water boiled with chickpeas to reduce appetite and to cut down on calorie intake.

Keeps Heart Healthy:

Chickpeas available black in colour are a good mix of antioxidants, anthocyanins, cyanidin, delphindin, phytonutrients that help in maintaining healthy blood vessels. Being rich in folate, magnesium and other minerals, these legumes prevent formation of plaque in the arteries, blood clots. Include black chana in your diet at least twice in a day to maintain good cardiovascular health.

Brings Down Inflammation:

Inflammation is a chronic disorder caused due to various factors including stress. Several studies reveal that consuming at least 4 servings of Kala Chana can boost metabolism and bring the inflammation down, owing to its wide range of nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamins C, B6, protein, magnesium, iron and selenium that ably fight chronic inflammation.

Black Chana For Skin Diseases:

The benefits of black chana on skin are numerous and it in fact is recommended for treating several skin conditions.

Reduces White Spots In Leukoderma:

Leukoderma is a skin condition caused due to low or total loss of pigmentation on the skin. It is an autoimmune disorder mainly affecting the healthy skin causing white patches. Ayurvedic doctors recommend soaking black chickpeas in water along with a 1tsp of triphala churna overnight and consuming it after sprouting.

This treatment if continued for a month will show positive results and would bring down white patches on the skin.

Treats Fungal Infections:

Black chickpeas are an excellent remedy to bring down fungal infections like ringworm that can cause severe itchiness on the skin. Ringworm can happen on scalp, feet or even in the groin. Doctors recommend eating soaked and boiled Kala Chana daily without salt to reduce fungal infections.

Arrests Hair Fall:

Kala Chana is an amazing source of Vitamin B6 and zinc, which play a crucial role in stronger hair growth. These minerals are responsible for building protein in the hair follicles for strengthening the hair. Also Read: Vitamin B6: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiency and Toxicity

Clears Dandruff:

If you are suffering from dandruff, apply black chana flour mixed with water on the scalp and wash it after 30 minutes. This remedy not only clears dandruff but also provides shine to the hair.

Prevents Grey Hair:

Premature greying of hair is a common problem that is being faced by many teenagers. Include Kala Chana in your daily diet as protein and manganese in these legumes prevent changes caused due to pigmentation and slow down the greying of hair.

Kala Chana For Skin and Hair:

chickpea flour

If your mother or grandmother ever advised you to use besan powder mixed with milk or rosewater for glowing skin, well, go by their word.

Face packs from chickpea flour is a time-tested beauty recipe and it is widely used and acknowledged for its innumerable beauty properties around the world. Chickpea flour is made from grounding dried black gram or chana dal and swift it through a muslin cloth or a sieve to get into a fine powder.

It has rich alkaline properties and is known for cleansing the clogged skin pores from within. It also removes the excess accumulation of oil and maintains supple skin.

Here is the basic chickpea flour face pack:

Besan And Kasturi Turmeric Face Pack:

Ingredients:

2 tsp of fine chickpea flour

½ tsp Kasturi turmeric powder

1 tsp rose water

1 tsp lemon juice

Method:

In a bowl, mix chickpea flour, turmeric powder, rose water and lemon juice into a paste. Add little water if required.

Apply it on the face, neck like a thin layer and let it dry.

Wash it with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Benefits:

Besan or chickpea flour works wonders in removing tan and providing an instant glow to the face. Kasturi turmeric powder is a special product with a good amount of anti-septic properties. It clears acne and prevents fungal infections. Rosewater soothes the skin, heals acne and brings down irritation. Lemon juice removes blemishes and opens clogged pores.

Chickpea Flour & Multani Mitti Face Pack

Ingredients:

1 tsp of fine chickpea flour

1 tsp multani mitti or Fuller’s Earth

Water

Method:

Mix chickpea flour and multani mitti along with water into a fine paste

Apply it evenly on the face and neck

Wash it after 15 minutes. Do not apply soap

Benefits:

Chickpea flour provides instant glow and clears tan while multani mitti clears skin from excess oil and blemishes. These both ingredients open the clogged skin pores, improve blood circulation.

Kala Chana Recipes:

Kala Chana is a staple ingredient in Indian households. It also carries a religious significance for Hindus. On auspicious days like Dasara Navratri and on festivals, soaked Kala Chana is exchanged between women as it is believed that it brings prosperity. Also Read: Vijayadashami Recipes: Relish These Wholesome, Yet Traditional Recipes On The Festive Day

Owing to its numerous health benefits, it is vastly recommended by both traditional and modern medical practitioners to incorporate it into the daily diet.

Baked goodies made from black chickpea flour have become quite popular in recent years, thanks to its gluten-free, high protein properties. We bring you two traditional Kala Chana recipes that are quite popular in India.

Traditional Black Chana Salad (Sundal)

Black chana sundal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup or 250 grams of soaked and soft black chana
  • 1 tsp oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp urad dal
  • ½ tsp hing
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Pressure cook soaked Kala Chana for 7 to 8 whistles in 2 cups of water
  • Drain the water and keep chickpeas aside
  • In a kadhai, add oil, mustard seeds, urad dal, turmeric and hing
  • Give it a stir. Close the lid and let it simmer for 3 minutes
  • Add salt to taste and serve hot

Nutritional Benefits:

This time-tested recipe with ample amounts of chickpea and urad dal is high on protein and provides instant energy. It is, in fact, a desi version of salad. Turmeric serves as an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal while hing and mustard aid in digestion.  Also Read: Black Gram: Nutrition, Therapeutic Benefits, Uses For Skin & Hair

Kerala Kadala Curry

Kadala curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh coconut 
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2-3 green chilli 
  • 1 tsp ginger and garlic Paste
  • ½ cup onion chopped, finely
  • ½ cup red tomato chopped, finely
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste

 For Tadka:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry Leaves
  • 2-3 Dry red chillies
  • Hing

 Method:

  • Pressure cook soaked chana in 2 cups of water for 6 to 8 whistles.  
  • Dry roast fresh coconut until it turns brown in colour. Transfer it to a blender, add little water and grind it to a paste 
  • In a kadai, heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger and garlic paste, fry for a minute. Add onions, tomato, green chilli and cook till tender 
  • Add all the ground spices including turmeric, chilli powder and garam masala  
  • Now, add cooked Kala chana along with water. Close the lid and let it cook for 10 minutes on medium flame  
  • Take few chana and mash it and add it back to the gravy 
  • For tempering, add mustard, curry leaves, dry red chilli and mix it with gravy 
  • Let the gravy simmer for 5 minutes, before serving it hot with either puttu, idiappam, appam or roti

Nutritional Benefits:

A traditional Malayali recipe, Kadala Curry this recipe is loaded with protein, vitamins and all essential nutrients. While chole provides ample fibre, coconut is rich in monosaturated healthy fats to keep the heart-healthy. Various grounded spices added to this dish boost immunity, aid in digestion and give instant energy.

Side Effects:

Though Kala Chana comes with numerable health and nutritional benefits, it is advised to consume it in moderate amounts. The high fiber content may cause diarrhoea, flatulence, cramps and bloating. It is not recommended for those suffering from severe legume allergy. If you suffer from skin rashes, headaches, cough soon after eating Kala Chana, see a doctor immediately.

Conclusion:

Kala Chana or Black Chickpeas are a wonder ingredient loaded with protein, an array of vitamins, minerals that can meet our nutritional requirements on a daily basis. A must-have ingredient in desi kitchens, these legume wonders can be cooked into delicious recipes. The chickpea flour made from Kala Chana serves as an amazing ingredient in beauty products. Homemade face masks with chickpea flour are quite popular among all generations. However, moderation is key while consuming these legumes as it may cause digestive issues like flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea. Go for black chana, for your daily dose of protein.